Monday, 23 July 2012

Matriarchs on a Monday - Abigail


This is a character trait that is much spoken of in the scriptures - in fact, we have a whole book that is devoted to the teaching of how to attain it, in Proverbs.

Today's matriarch had it, in bucketloads.

She had the ability to carefully think through her circumstances and act in a sensible and measured way.

To take charge of her dominion, which was hers by God's appointment, and to prevent a rashly made decision from becoming a massacre.

Abigail was married to a man named Nabal.  He was FAR from being an upstanding pillar in his community.  He was no stalwart example of manners and grace.  Far from it.

"but the man was churlish and evil in his doings;"
I Samuel 25:3

He was a man who was not generous - was not trusting - was not gentle.  When David's servants came and explained that they had been kind to him and HIS servants, so could he please reciprocate this kindness, he was having NONE of it.  He sent them away empty handed.

David was NOT best pleased.  He got his men, had them armed, and went off in search of Nabal.

His heart was bent upon destruction, and we all know how well David could orchestrate a battle.

However, Abigail was the polar opposite of her husband.

"she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance:"
I Samuel 25:3

She was WISE.  She was intelligent.  She had a lot of sense.  She had her noggin screwed on!

So, the servants came to her to warn her that David was seeking to kill Nabal and his family.  She hurriedly got  together a MASSIVE amount of food and went out to meet David, BEFORE he got to them!

By doing so, she appeased the wrath of David, and he spared them.

Hang on, though.  Some would say that she was not being a submissive wife, by going against the wishes of her husband.  That, knowing Nabal didn't want to help David, she should also have refused to provide these refreshments.

However, there are two things that lead me to the conclusion that what she did was right, and good.

Firstly, the Bible tells us quite clearly that she was a WISE woman.  The Lord never gives us useless details - so, if He told us she was wise, then she WAS wise.

Secondly, the conclusion of the matter tells us what God thought of Nabal.

He died - Abigail was spared.

So, in what way was she wise, if she seemed to be going against her husband's wishes?

She was wise, because she was fulfilling the description in Proverbs 31 - she was "doing him good".  She knew that his life would be ended, for sure, if David had his way.  She cared for him - despite the fact that she acknowledged to David that his personality suited his name...

"for as his name is, so is he; Nabal is his name, and folly is with him:"
I Samuel 25:25

Nabal = stupid, wicked, foolish and vile

(quite WHO gives their beautiful, new-born child such a name, is ANYONE'S guess....)

She tried to protect the name of Nabal and the family.

And yet, when she wisely waited until he was sober the next day to tell him what she had done, the Lord still struck him, as dead.  He died 10 days later.  And, we are told it was the Lord smiting him.

What NABAL did was wrong, not Abigail.  Had it been her wrongdoing, she would have been struck dead, too.  Like Annanais and Sapphira.

So, what to  learn from Abigail?

Certainly, it's NOT a lesson on the freedom to subvert the authority of your husband, in a general sense. We have been given very clear New Testament teaching, that shows us that our husband is our head, and we are to be in submission to that.

However, are there ways we can protect our husband - that we can do him good?  That we can prevent danger or harm from coming to him, by our wise actions, or words?

Can you offer to drive, even though you'd rather not, because you know your husband is too tired?

Could you make healthy food choices on his behalf, by how your plan your meals, even though you know he doesn't eat well when he is NOT at home?

We can wisely try to influence and encourage our husband in good decisions and life-style choices.

We may, like Abigail, have husbands who are downright foolish.  Maybe we have to deal with other people who have suffered as a consequence of their actions and behaviour, a bit like Abigail and David.   If these people are believers, we may need to wisely advise them as to the best way to respond to some wrongdoing that has come about.  Abigail was able to convince a very angry David not to shed innocent blood.  She wisely directed his anger away by being kind, generous and gentle.

I know there are ladies out there with husbands that cause them despair, embarrassment and sadness.  Keep looking to the Lord for grace and wisdom, and trust Him  to deal with your husband in the way He knows best.  You must just carry on being wise, gentle and good in your life, despite the way that your husband behaves.

Even if your husband is not quite as bad as Nabal, pray for wisdom in all your dealings with your husband.  In all the areas of your wifely dominion, seek God's ways first - to please GOD above all else in your life.

There are many ways in a general sense in which it is important to be wise.  In our dealings with our children.  In the way in which we behave.  The words we use when speaking to others.  Do we think before we speak?  Do we think through the consequences of our actions, BEFORE we choose to act? Even as simply as the choices that we make on a day to day basis.

The question we need to ask, above all else, is this.  Are we honouring and obeying the Lord in our words and ways? Are we reading His word enough to KNOW the way He wants us to live?

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." 
Psalm 111:10  

If we obey God's commandments, we will be wise. Do we fear the Lord above all else, rather than what others think of the way we live?

How does scripture teach us to be wise, like Abigail?

"but with the lowly is wisdom." 
Proverbs 11:2

Abigail had the humility to come quickly to David and seek reconciliation.  She could have run away in embarrassment, but instead her wisdom sent her to David before he got to them.

We need to be wise enough to see situations in which we require humility - to be humble enough to see our weaknesses and faults, and seek to repair problems, rather than to make them worse.

"When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; discretion shall preserve thee,"
Proverbs 2:10

She went to David alone.  Going to Nabal first would not have solved any problems.  She had the wisdom to see that a speedy resolution was required, and she had the power and possessions to do so.  As a wife, she had authority and responsibility to give out the food that they had.  It was within her remit to access all those provisions, and give them to David.  In so doing, her life was preserved, along with many others in her household.

We need to be discreet in our doings.  We don't need to flaunt our good deeds.  We don't need to tell the whole world about our actions, and the activities that we do as a family.  We need to discreetly go about our business.

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. 
Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her."
Proverbs 4:7-8

I am SURE that Abigail never dreamed, in all her doings, that her husband would be smitten dead by God himself, and she would end up being the wife of King David!! Yet, this was her position that SHE was promoted to! She was honoured by being mentioned in God's Word as a wise woman, that we can even now learn from!

We should never do anything in life, simply for the sake of self promotion.  God is good, though - He promises many things as a result of our true obedience and honouring of Him.  He promises to honour those who honour Him.  If nothing else, we will lifted up and promoted spiritually speaking, and blessed in that way.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. 
For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased."
Proverbs 9:10-11

Abigail's life was spared because of her wise ways.  Her days were most certainly multiplied and her life increased!!

If we are wise in the way we live, it can be used by the Lord to multiply our days.  Healthy eating, caring for our body, and being wise in lifestyle choices can all help us to live a longer life, humanly speaking.

"She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 
but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." 
Proverbs 31:26&30

This is the ultimate accolade.  Abigail is praised for her wise dealing with David.  She spoke to him wisely, appeasing his wrath.  She was kind, and generous in the measure of her giving to David and his men.

Ultimately, we should want to receive the praise of God Himself, for the wisdom that we exhibit in our lives.  It says in verse 29 of Proverbs 31 that favour is deceitful and beauty is vain.  We shouldn't want to find favour in the eyes of those around us. We certainly don't want to only be known for being beautiful.  (*not that this is an issue for many of us...erm, me anyway!*)  We CAN be praised for living a God-fearing life.   If our family and friends see that we are wise in our ways, as a result of fearing God more than man, then that would be praise indeed.  

So, let's take a leaf out of Abigail's book, and learn to be wise.  It certainly is worth aiming for, when you consider the alternative - who would choose the rough road instead of God's favour?...

Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard. (rough)
Proverbs 13:15  

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